Earning a culinary certificate online teaches you the skills to prepare a wide range of tasty dishes. However, a chef needs more than knowledge and ability to craft great food. You must also have the right tools at the ready.
A well-equipped chef is ready to work quickly and efficiently, taking on any recipe. Having the necessary tools can make all the difference when you go from taking courses at a Colorado culinary school to building a career. Here are 10 essential items you should keep at your side whenever you’re in the kitchen.
1. Chef’s knife
“A quality chef’s knife is your single most important tool.”
A good set of knives is vital for any chef, and a quality chef’s knife is the single most important tool you can own. Whether you’re chopping, slicing, mincing or dicing, this knife will see constant use, so it’s vital to purchase one that’s right for you. Look for a well-balanced blade and a comfortable grip on the handle.
A high-carbon blade stays sharp through long hours of cutting, so it’s a worthwhile investment for a professional chef or committed home cook. Whatever model you go with, attentive care and maintenance will keep it in prime condition for longer. Never clean your knife in a dishwasher, always store it on a magnetic strip or in a blade guard and use a honing rod to maintain the edge.
2. Cutting board
To go with your knife, you’ll need a durable surface for your prep work that’s heavy enough to avoid slipping. A cutting board made from a soft material like wood or rubber preserves the edge on your blade. Keeping the surface clean is vital to prevent cross-contamination.
Like your knife, a pair of kitchen tongs is likely to see use any time you’re cooking. Pick a pair that gives you precise control for turning over food in the oven or frying pan and arranging your completed dish. Opt for silicone tips for heat resistance and to protect nonstick surfaces.
A good peeler ensures your produce is ready to cook and looks delicious. Many cooks prefer a straight-swivel model, but a y-shaped peeler grants you more control. You can easily adjust your grip to suit the shapes of potatoes, carrots, apples or citrus fruits.
A mandoline slicer is invaluable when you need to get your produce ready fast by applying a uniform cut to each piece. This tool allows you to apply a julienne cut to vegetables for a salad or a french cut to potatoes. A stainless steel, countertop model is ideal for professional cooks, though more economical versions made with plastic can also get the job done.
With a powerful blender, you can easily puree vegetables, create emulsions and prepare frozen drinks or smoothies. Countertop varieties are highly versatile, but for certain applications, you may prefer an immersion blender. This variety is best when you are mixing soup that is too hot to pour out or combining larger quantities that cannot fit into the countertop blender.
7. Meat thermometer
Preparing an exceptional piece of meat requires careful attention to the internal temperature. A meat thermometer makes it simple to tell when your beef, pork or poultry has spent long enough in the oven or skillet. These handy devices ensure you are serving food that is both safe and perfectly juicy.
8. Fish spatula
A fish spatula is thin, flexible and has holes punched through the blade, which means it’s excellent for flipping a fish fillet as it cooks in oil. However, this tool has many other uses. Use this spatula to remove cookies or roasted vegetables from a sheet pan, turn over pancakes or move around the ingredients in a stir fry.
9. Spice grinder
Freshly ground spices take a good recipe to the next level. Pick a model that has a sharp blade for handling harder spices and spins fast to avoid overheating the ingredients. A removable bowl allows easy washing to avoid unintentionally mixing flavors together.
10. Food processor
A food processor has a lot in common with a blender, but this appliance has plenty of its own benefits. The ability to change out blades and attachments makes the processor a highly versatile piece of equipment for a variety of tasks that are otherwise repetitive and time-consuming. Use this tool to chop vegetables, shred cheese or mix and knead dough.
For a chef to do his or her best work, it takes training, fresh ingredients, a comfortable space to work in and an assortment of tools. By carefully choosing the items in your kitchen, you open up new possibilities for streamlining your processes and experimenting with dishes. The right tools allow you to make the most of the skills you learn from culinary academy.